By Patrick Flynn
A Caribbean-bound holiday flight diverted to Shannon Airport this morning after a passenger fell ill more than 700 kilometres away over France.
Azur Air ZF-777 was en route from Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic and was about three hours into its journey at the time.
The Boeing 777-300 jet was flying over France, northeast of Rennes, at around 4.40am (Irish time) when the crew descended from 32,000 feet to 10,000 feet before turning sharply right and routing towards Shannon.
It’s understood the crew opted to divert to Shannon rather than closer French or UK airports to allow time to prepare for the unscheduled landing and dump aviation fuel.
As the flight approached the Waterford coast, the crew jettisoned fuel to ensure they touched down within safe landing weight limits.
The crew advised air traffic controllers that they would need an ambulance on arrival reporting that they had a passenger on board suffering from high blood pressure.
Airport fire crews were also standing by for the flight when it landed safely at 6.17am.
A passenger was later removed to hospital for treatment.
The flight continued its journey at 10.45am.
The airline confirmed the flight diverted to Shannon after the pilots "requested a forced landing”. The carrier also said the flight landed normally and later continued to Punta Cana.
On Monday, a US-bound jet made an unscheduled landing at Shannon after suffering problems with its water system.
Delta Air Lines flight DL-35 was travelling from Paris to Seattle in the US at the time. The flight diverted to Shannon where the aircraft was service before continuing to the US.
Shannon Airport continues to handle the most unscheduled landings and emergency diversions of any Irish airport. With the longest runway in Ireland, at 3.2 kilometres, Shannon sees diversions on an almost weekly basis.
In 2017, of the 113 unscheduled landings, 24 were medical emergencies.